Discover Portugal’s lesser-known Leiria district, where spacious sandy beaches and landmark historical structures await. Lounge on the postcard-perfect beaches of the “Silver Coast.” Venture inland to explore UNESCO-listed monasteries and towns to see authentic Portuguese life.
The district’s biggest city is Leiria, a modern-day university town with a medieval center. Wander the historic old town to find the Leiria Cathedral, which was built between the late 16th and early 17th centuries. Visit the imposing Leiria Castle, located on a clifftop overlooking the town. Originally built in the 12th century, it has since been reconstructed and restored several times. Other attractions include the Museu de Leiria, which chronicles local history. M|i|mo is a museum devoted to the history of the moving image. Visit Museu do Moinho de Papel, a riverside museum set in a 15th-century water-powered paper mill.
Leiria’s castle is one of several notable historical landmarks in the district. Explore the UNESCO-listed Monastery of Batalha south of the city, a masterpiece of Portuguese Gothic (Manueline) style. The 12th-century UNESCO-listed Monastery of Alcobaça is also known for its fine details.
The district’s coastline, a portion of the “Silver Coast,” also draws crowds of visitors. Pack your swimsuit and head for Nazaré, an appealing seaside resort. Visit in summer for swimming and sunbathing on the cliff-backed beach or in winter to surf its famously large waves. Also popular is the fishing town turned beach resort of São Martinho do Porto. The quiet Paredes da Vitoria Beach is a popular alternative to busier Nazaré.
For wilder nature, travel inland to Parque Natural das Serras de Aire e Candeeiros, partly located within the Leiria district. Follow hiking trails across the limestone massif and explore the park’s caves.
Find Leiria district on Portugal’s Atlantic coast, just north of Lisbon. Fly into Lisbon or take the train from Paris to Lisbon. Driving to Leiria from Lisbon will take about 90 minutes. Trains and buses also connect Leiria with Lisbon.